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Saving world through cinema, Korean style

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Mumbai, Nov 5 : In the film " A Barefoot Dream", a failed Korean businessman trains a children's soccer team in strife- torn East Timor and helps the nation heal. Not only this, but four more interesting tales were told at the just concluded Korean Film Festival here.

The tiny nation of South Korea can afford to only help heal a nondescript Timor. Yet like " A Barefoot Dream" - based on a true story - shows, it is much more real and tangible than saving the world from aliens.

Mumbai viewers had a small sampling of Korean cinema during the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival and it was extended by a three-day Korean Film Festival, held by the Korean Consulate in Mumbai during Nov 1-3.

The five films in the festival showed the rich diversity of Korean cinema.

"This year has been declared the Year of Korea in India and the Year of India in Korea to promote bilateral relations between the two countries. In recent years Korean films have earned global recognition and we wanted to showcase the same in India," Seo Hang Lee, Consul General of the Republic of Korea, told IANS.

The Koreans don't have to pretend to save the world. They are content saving their own country.

"My Girlfriend Is An Agent" is a goofball comedy of a spy couple whose identities are secret from one another and unwittingly they end up saving the nation from a bio-chemical holocaust.

Yet it is not just about saving someone, but also about respect. In "Old Partner", a documentary style feature, an aged couple care for a dying ox even as they themselves have been almost abandoned by their children who work in cities and a society that does not seem to care. It makes a passionate plea of compassion for those whose time has come.

Though seemingly a little slow compared to the other films in the festival, "Old Partner" is a metaphor against globalisation in which we have no time for those who are no longer useful to us.

The Korean penchant for bitter-sweet comedy comes to the fore in "Scandal Makers", the story of a 30 something RJ, who suddenly discovers that he has a daughter and even a little grandson.

The consul general admits that this serving is not enough, but he hopes to 'explore Indian tastes for Korean films'. He merely need look at Bollywood that has for long been 'inspired' by Korean cinema.

The enthusiastic response to the festival has whetted the consul general's appetite and he is pepped up enough to making this a yearly festival and bringing more films here.

At the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival, someone gifted Korean jury member Hong-jin Na a copy of the film "Murder 2", which is purportedly inspired by his film "The Chaser".

Then there was Sanjay Dutt-starrer " Zinda", which was almost an exact replica of the Korean cult classic "Old Boy", while the 2007 Bollywood hit "Welcome" bears an uncanny resemblance to the 2002 Korean film "Marrying The Mafia".

Bollywood, however, does not seem to be taken up with the heart of Korean cinema. For, if anything, the Koreans are a bunch of conscientious filmmakers. The North-South divide of the once united nation, has led the Koreans to find a means of resolution via cinema.

Besides masterpieces like "The Brotherhood of War" and "Welcome To Dongmakgol", films like "A Barefoot Dream" works to serve the message of Korean unity.

India, as the many divisions in the subcontinent shows, needs that message of unity in equal measure. Saving the world can be left to Hollywood but like the Koreans, maybe we can start by healing the wounded, by saving one another.

And there, Korean cinema can perhaps show Bollywood the way, once more.

(Satyen K. Bordoloi can be contacted at

By Satyen K. Bordoloi © IANS
Tags: A Barefoot Dream, Sanjay Dutt, Zinda,
Posted On : 5th November, 2011
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